The finest analogue chess clocks come from the German timepiece company Garde, founded in 1862. Our Garde analogue clock is not only of the highest quality, but it also the largest non-digital clock on the market … at 8¾” long x 5″ high x 2¼” deep, with the clock face at 3″ in diameter. It has a bright clear contemporary clock face that harmonizes nicely with the light wooden finished case.
Before the advent of digital chess clocks, this was the tournament standard for Grandmaster tournaments, including The World Championship in London England between Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov. The only other worthy competitor, Jerger, is no longer available – other wooden clocks on the market just do not approach the Garde product aesthetically or with respect to functionality.
Whether you are one of the many who dislikes fiddling with settings on digital clocks, or one who simply appreciates simple quality, Garde is the gold standard in mechanical Chess Clocks.
We spend a great deal of time ensuring that we sell our chess sets at the most competitive prices without compromising on the quality of our boards or pieces. Through careful product selection, supplier relationships and price monitoring & matching we are constantly working to deliver the best value equipment to all of our customers.
When you’re looking for a more affordable chess set, rather than absolute luxury, there are a number of things to look out for that’ll help you get an even better deal:
The Chess Board: Chessboards are constructed using a variety of different methods and a number of different materials. These materials range from solid woods and wood veneers through to vinyl and compressed board. Although wood veneers are cheaper than boards made from solid wood they represent a great balance in terms of quality vs. cost. Chess Sets with veneered boards are not only incredibly stylish but are also cheaper than boards made from solid wood. It’s important to realise that this doesn’t automatically mean compromising quality. Veneered boards are much more consistent, less sensitive to environmental factors (like humidity) and each board is identical – free from minor imperfections and variations that naturally occur with solid wood boards. They are cheap in terms of cost, but not in terms of quality and appearance.
The Chess Pieces: the type of wood that is used in the construction of chess pieces, and the level of detailing, generally determine their cost, and in turn the cost of the overall set. Boxwood chess pieces are ideal if you need a chess set that is more affordable. It is both a dense and robust wood that ages well, looks fantastic and is relatively cheap. You’ll find that boxwood is often used with reasonably priced chess sets for both the white and black pieces, it is naturally light in colour and is dyed or stained to form the black pieces. Another thing to look closely at are the knights -they are a good gauge of value. Knights are the most intricate and time consuming pieces to carve, so the more detailed the knight, the more expensive the pieces.
Our Budget Chess Sets
We stock a large range of inexpensive chess sets -these are perfect for customers who are budget conscious and looking for something cheap to buy.
Our Down Head Championship chess set is a typical example and this is one of the best value cheap chess sets we sell – it represents a perfect balance between quality and value for money. The beautifully made chessboard is handcrafted in Europe whilst the pieces are expertly crafted in a specialist workshop in India. The board and pieces in this set have been paired by our experts to deliver a chess set which is astounding quality and value.
As well as cheaper wooden chess sets we also sell a range of high quality tournament standard sets, these are manufactured from plastic, are nicely detailed and are ideal for customers who are looking for professional grade equipment used by enthusiasts and experts. These sets are both inexpensive and incredibly good value. They are especially good for customers who are looking to become regular players, for clubs, schools and universities.
Ex Display and Clearance Sets = Affordable Luxury
Our ex-display and clearance chess sets are a great way to get a high-end or luxury chess set at a cheap price. Products in this section are usually items that we’ve used for display in our showroom, they may be unwanted customer returns, or they may have minor imperfections or blemishes. In many cases these chess sets are discounted with up to 75% off their normal price.
Each item is carefully photographed, any imperfections or damage clearly described and the products are listed individually – We always ensure that any blemishes are clearly visible so you can make an educated decision before you buy.
Although many of the products that we sell are unique or commissioned by us, we spend a great deal of time working to reduce the cost of our products so that we beat our match competitor’s prices on comparable products.
Chess sets are often similar in style but the variation in quality can be tremendous – at Regency Chess we are especially focused on craftsmanship as well as the affordability of all of the chess sets that we sell on our site, whether they are luxury or cheap. Through our supplier relationships we not only ensure that our chess sets are beautifully crafted, but that they are appropriately priced, beating or matching our competitors prices.
Keeping Costs Down
Pricing is something that we constantly monitor and constantly work to keep down. As one of the UK’s biggest chess retailers we commission many of the chess sets that we sell and work closely with manufacturers to keep production and manufacturing costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality.
Where we buy products from manufacturers we’re also able to buy them in a volume that allows us to offer some of the best prices in the UK.
Although I’ve watched and really enjoyed all three of the Lord of The Rings films, I’m not the biggest LOTR fan in the world and I must confess that I haven’t read the books. As you can imagine I was a bit surprised when I was asked to review this Lord of the Rings Chess set produced by Studio Anne Carlton, but here goes….
This themed chess set is based on the first film in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy; The Fellowship of the Ring and is officially licensed by New Line Cinema, who I understand are the producers of the LOTR films.
The set consists of 32 pieces each representing a bust of a character from the Fellowship of the Rings story and comes bundled with a lovely dark wood chessboard.
All of the pieces in the set are hand painted, with 32 pieces in total (no spare queens I’m afraid) – each piece is made from crushed stone.
The chessboard that comes bundled with the pieces measures approximately 55cm x 55cm. The largest of the chess pieces themselves (the king) is approximately 11.5cm tall.
Unboxing and First Impressions
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this themed set, although there are some lovely themed chess sets out there, I haven’t been too impressed with some of the cheap ones that I’ve seen in the past, especially from China.
The pieces come packaged in a lovely SAC (Studio Ann Carlton) box, which has a medieval style typeface and the box is a combination of yellow and red. There is no mention of Lord of the Rings on the outside of the box (I’m not sure if it is generic) but it does have a feeling of quality about it and the lid slips off very easily.
Inside we’ve got an information sheet printed on both sides; giving us some background on the Lord of The Rings, and each of the characters that have been used as pieces in the set.
After removing all the protective foam, we’re left with two trays each containing 16 chess pieces for each side of the board, both black and white.
Predictably SAC have chosen to represent the LOTR white pieces with the good characters from the story (Gandalf, Galadriel etc) and the dark/evil characters are represented by black pieces.
One of the first things that I picked up on was that this Lord of The Rings set uses busts of the characters rather than an entire figure. This works surprisingly well and in my view helps to bring together the concept of a film and a traditional game in a way that isn’t tacky. I don’t think I would have any hesitation in having these pieces on display in the same way that I would with traditional pieces.
One of the things that I did notice with the SAC packaging is that because of the size of some of the chess pieces (i.e they are big) they do fit rather snuggly into the trays in the box. This is only a small issue, but SAC could look at tweaking the tray sizes to improve on this.
Moving on to the board, again it’s nicely packaged. It looks as though this has been produced by a manufacturer in Spain and has obviously been paired with the pieces by the supplier (in this case Regency Chess). This seems to be normal practice as chess boards and pieces aren’t always produced by the same company.
Opening the board up it is a lovely dark wood/light wood mix. It is a veneered board and the wenge/maple wood is a good contrast with a nice clean finish. No problems here, initial thoughts are that it is nice quality and matches the price bracket of the pieces.
Closer Look: The Lord of the Rings Pieces
As I mentioned above, each of the pieces represents a bust of a character from the Lord of The Rings. Here is a list of the pieces that SAC have used:
King – Saruman the White
Queen – Ringwraiths
Bishops – Lurtz
Knights – Orc Overseer
Rooks – Moria Orc
Pawns – Orc
I’m incredibly impressed by the level of detail and I really like the hand painted finish, which looks fantastic (especially with the white pieces). The dark side is also intricately detailed and some of the characters are borderline scary!
Weight-wise the pieces range from about 66 grams for pawns to 132 grams for the kings. This is a nice weight for these types of pieces and adds to a general feeling of quality about the chess set. Because the pieces are made from crushed stone the weight comes from the actual material rather than artificial weights, which is great.
On the bottom of the pieces I noticed that they all have ‘The One Ring’ Inscription (another nice touch) and the bottom of the pieces are properly felted to protect the board from scratching.
The pieces range from about 5/6cm high for the pawns through to 11.5cm for the kings.
Closer Look: The board
Returning to the board – The one supplied with this Lord of the Rings chess set is a dark wood, light wood mix and manufactured by Rechapados Ferrer – based in Spain. From what I’ve heard Ferrer specialise in producing mainly veneered boards and this one is about 13mm thick and approx 55cm x 55cm.
Whilst I do like boards manufactured from a solid piece of wood, the price can often be a drawback. These veneered boards offer a good compromise between quality and value – and this one is beautifully made. Another advantage with veneered chessboards is that they are much more stable and much less prone to the cracking often associated with solid wood. Unlike solid boards each one is identical and free from the defects / variations associated with completely natural wood.
I think this is a fantastically made board that pairs perfectly with the SAC chess pieces.
I was initially a little concerned as to whether we would be able to remember which characters represent which pieces when we started to play. This has always been something I’ve wondered about with themed chess sets and we did have to refer to the information sheet to help us get us started, but after about 10 minutes of play we soon found our feet and ultimately this didn’t pose a problem.
In the past I’ve been on the fence in terms of themed chess sets, I’m a big fan of the traditional Staunton style and I’ve often struggled to see the value in themed pieces. This Lord of the Rings set seems to have converted me – the pieces are beautifully crafted and I like the Spanish chessboard that Regency chosen to match the chess pieces.
In summary – I think this set makes both a beautiful display piece and a chess set that can be used day to day. It gets my thumbs up and makes an ideal gift!!
2018 Update: The pieces in this set have been discontinued due to the demise of SAC and the expiration of the LOTR license. The Regency Chess Company have a VERY limited number of ‘New Old Stock’ sets left in stock which are available for sale on our website.
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The Regency Chess Company is a trading name of JDS Toys & Games Ltd. Registered office: L5 Commerce Park, Frome BA11 2FB, UK. UK Registered Company number: 05642467. VAT: GB925 9476 81
The Regency Chess Company is a registered trademark number 2523868. The Regency Chess Company Limited, UK registered company number 06955067 is owned solely by JDS Toys & Games Limited.
Shareholder and Managing Director: Julian Deverell.